DoubleTalk

For as long as Apple and Microsoft operating systems have lived together in the computing world, different solutions have been used to get the two platforms to communicate with each other. For the SoHo market, two applications – Thursby Software’s Dave and Miramar Systems’ PC Maclan – have dominated the scene. Connectix – the makers of Virtual PC and Virtual Game Station – has now entered the fray with DoubleTalk. DoubleTalk lets you integrate your Macintosh into a Windows network or a stand-alone PC without making any changes to the network itself. The only requirement on your part is that you connect your Mac to the PC via either a hub or crossover cable, and configure your Macintosh as part of an NT domain or workgroup. DoubleTalk takes over from there, letting you easily print to a Windows-managed PostScript printer, and transfer files to and from a network running Windows 95, 98, NT and 2000. As with Thursby’s Dave, when you install DoubleTalk, a set-up assistant runs automatically and guides you through the process of configuring the system properly – you don’t need to be a network guru to install it. But if your plans are to connect to a company network, you’ll need some information provided by network administrators. Settings – such as your computer’s unique name, NetBios and TCP-IP information – are changed using DoubleTalk’s control panels. Easy access
Features, such as network login and Apple’s Chooser, can be accessed quickly through a Control Strip module. Once you’ve selected a server it’s neatly accessed on your Macintosh desktop just like any other hard drive or external device. However, in comparison with the likes of Dave and PC Maclan, Connectix DoubleTalk comes with no frills. It provides users with the core application needed for accessing Windows networks and PCs, and nothing more. For instance, a feature in Dave 2.5.1 allows Windows users to see shared Macintosh files on the network and neighbourhood. Another feature missing from DoubleTalk is the ability to use NetBIOS for checking IP addresses and other DNS information about the PC you’re logged on to. Also, if you plan to connect to your company LAN via PPP/Remote Access Server connection with AppleTalk, DoubleTalk does not support it. However, if you want quick access to Windows files and networked printers, there’s no better way than DoubleTalk. Boasting key networking connectivity and other features – such as support for Mac OS 9 Multiple Users and Apple Location Manager – SoHo users can confidently network with Windows without too much knowledge of what’s happening behind the scenes.

OUR VERDICT

If you’re looking to quickly access your PC in a home-office network or even a larger corporate network – with DHCP/WINS server and the like – DoubleTalk is recommend. Compared to similar applications it comes with few frills, but it costs less too – only £75 in comparison with Dave’s £149 and PC Maclan’s £106 single-user price tags.

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